Cyanocitta cristata

“The blue jay is with us the entire year. A very handsome, dashing-looking bird he is to be sure; but with his brazen manners and rasping voice he is a tiresome neighbor, and I for one wish he would migrate, and I wish he would take with him that imported pest, the English sparrow.”—From “The Birds of Drew Forest” by Mrs. Olin A. Curtis in The Building of Drew University (1938) by Charles Fremont Sitterly

Sciurus carolinensis

Squirrels need one to two pounds of food each week. For the figure-conscious squirrel, Self Magazine’s NutritionData logs a pound of acorns as having 2,272 calories.

Baeolophus bicolor

If it weren’t for their diminutive size, titmice might be the rugby players of the Forest. Encyclopedia Britannica calls them “extremely athletic” and National Geographic terms them “noisy.” Related Drew fact: On November 14, 1970, The Byrds performed on campus.

Eurybia divaricata

Wildflowers Worth Knowing (1917) describes this plant as having a zigzag stem on which “loose clusters of flowerheads spread in a broad, rather flat corymb.” If the word “corymb” does not delight, how about “peduncle”? That would be the stalk that supports the corymb.

Quercus palustris

Drew’s campus has four types of oaks. This one, the pin oak, is distinguished by sharp, pointed lobes (or fingers). The lobes of the white oak, in contrast, are rounded. See also red oak. Related Drew fact: There are three presidential white oaks at Drew. The Hardin oak, named for Paul Hardin, Drew’s ninth president, is more than 300 years old. It’s located between the Pepin Services Center and the Ranger stadium in a wooded area. Much younger oaks for Thomas H. Kean, Drew’s 10th president, and for current president Robert Weisbuch, are located along the ceremonial path leading south from the rear of Mead Hall.

Toxicodendron radicans

“Leaves of three, let it be” is how the mnemonic goes, but poison ivy is also a tree-climbing vine with fuzzy brown aerial roots that contain the skin irritant urishol. Beware all forms of this trifoliate.

Quercus rubra

The leaf of New Jersey’s state tree, the red oak, has pointed lobes (fingers) with relatively shallow sinuses (the space between the lobes). The Forest is also home to the swamp oak, Quercus bicolor, whose leaves are broad with very shallow sinuses. For more oaks, see pin oak. Related Drew fact: The term Druid, from whence we get Drewid, has at its roots “druwides,” meaning oak-knower, a meaning confirmed by Pliny the Elder.

Acer saccharum

The Forest is home to two species of maple, the native sugar maple, and the beastly invasive Norway maple. The best way to tell the similar leaves apart is to tear across a leaf: if the sap is clear, it’s a sugar maple. If it’s milky, it’s a Norway. Related Drew fact: Professor of Biology Sara Webb has done significant research in the Forest Preserve on how Norway maples overpower undergrowth, damaging forest ecology. The 2011 Governor’s School in the Sciences also used the preserve to study the impact of climate change on Norway and sugar maples.

Liquidambar styraciflua

Known for its sidewalk-blanketing spiky ball fruit—nicknamed “ankle twisters” by some—the sweet gum is native to North America. It made its way to England in 1681 with the assistance of Anglican clergyman John Baptist Banister, a botanist and one of the founders of the College of William and Mary. He would die at age 42 in an accidental shooting while collecting plant specimens in Virginia.

Cardinalis cardinalis

As a biology major, Dan Lane C’95 kept a spreadsheet of 140 bird species he sighted on campus over four years. He listed the cardinal as “common,” meaning he saw it daily. That birding experience served him well: Lane, now a research associate at LSU’s Museum of Natural Science, is credited with having discovered a new species of bird in Peru, the scarlet-banded barbet. Related Drew fact: Students in Professor Tammy Windfelder’s BIOL 162/Ornithology study bird anatomy and physiology and avian ecology, plus take campus bird censuses during the course.

Buteo jamaicensis

Forty-five years ago, a red-tailed hawk with a broken wing was left in a box on Len Soucy’s doorstep. From there, he would go on to found the nonprofit Raptor Trust on the edge of the Great Swamp in Millington, N.J., help more than 60,000 injured birds and, in 1988, receive an honorary doctorate from Drew. In 2009, he told the New York Daily News that he “is drawn to raptors’ ‘freedom and spirit,’ while ‘I’m just kind of stuck on this planet.’”

Odocoileus virginianus

Norse Druids imagined that deer—four stags, to be precise—fed off Yggdrasil, a massive tree of life symbolizing the world. The idea of deer as decimator still holds true in the Forest. In 2011, the arboretum and a significant portion of the Forest Preserve were fenced off to prevent deer from ravaging undergrowth, a threat to forest ecology. Related Drew fact: Associate Professor of Biology Tammy Windfelder and her students have studied mammal communities in the preserve to see how excluding deer affects the mix of animals there.

Fagus grandifolia

Olin Curtis, a professor of systematic theology at Drew (1896–1914), wrote this on his first campus tour with Professor Samuel Upham: “Before we came to the library, the doctor stopped, backed away from the path, and, with a quick flourish of his right hand and entire arm, as if trying to sweep the whole campus into the spot in front of him, exclaimed heartily: ‘There it is! That beech! Is there anywhere on earth, any living thing more beautiful?’” Read Curtis’ full essay.

Vulpes vulpes

No, not the actor Redd Foxx, who played Fred Sanford on the ’70s sitcom Sanford and Son, but the species that may have been introduced into the colonies by European aristocrats for sporting purposes. An adult male fox is called a dog; a female, a vixen.

Larix decidua

The larch is one of only three deciduous conifers in the United States, meaning it drops its needles each fall. The species name gives this away. Related Drew fact: In the course “Ecology and Evolution,” a quarter of all Drew first-year students conduct field labs, make observations and collect data in the Forest.

Ilex sp.

In folklore, holly and oak are intertwined: The Oak King rules the warm half of the year; the Holly King takes over for the colder, darker half. There’s not much of a competition at Drew: The campus only features an ornamental shrub variety in the arboretum, the gift of a landscaper whose child attended Drew.

Bufo americanus

The phrase “nuptial pad” might bring to mind a luxurious honeymoon rental, but when it comes to toads it’s the best way to determine gender. On breeding males, look for darkened pads—used to grip the female during mating—above their thumbs.

Tamias striatus

Pop culture fact: Rostom Sipan “Ross” Bagdasarian, the Armenian-American singer-songwriter and actor who first voiced the chipmunks of Alvin and the Chipmunks fame, played the character who lived in the apartment across from Jimmy Stewart in Hitchcock’s Rear Window.

Sylvilagus floridanus

The rabbit is featured in several children’s classics, including The Tale of Peter Rabbit and The Runaway Bunny. Find more favorite children’s books recommended by Drew library staff. Related Drew fact: On April 30, 1978, Eddie Rabbitt performed on campus.

Procyon lotor

Carl Linneaus wasn’t quite sure how to classify the raccoon, but in 1758 settled on Ursus lotor: Ursus being bear, and lotor, meaning “I wash,” for the raccoon’s habit of seemingly dunking its food in water to wash it. Linneaus had a pet raccoon of his own named Sjupp, which Nature featured in 2007.

Meleagris gallopavo

Benjamin Franklin was highly peeved the wild turkey hadn’t been picked as America’s national bird. In 1784, he wrote a letter to his daughter about the ill-advised choice of the bald eagle, believing that it was the turkey that had what it took to royally kick some British butt. Related Drew fact: The application for Sierra Club Magazine’s Cool Schools listing, on which Drew appeared in 2011, asked the following question: Has your school set aside part of its campus as natural habitat? Drew’s answer was yes, citing the forest preserve and the Zuck Arboretum, home to “a variety of wildlife, including geese, wild turkeys and white-tailed deer.”

Marmota monax

Woodchucks, the largest member of the squirrel family, are also called groundhogs. They have inspired both an easily overlooked annual holiday and the ubiquitous tongue twister.

Juglans nigra

Each fall, the ground outside the Hall of Sciences greenhouse is pocked with vivid yellow-green, grapefruit-sized fruit, many crushed by cars driving up to the back of Brothers College. Those are the husks of the black walnut, a nut that’s in the culinary spotlight after appearing in a salad served to President Hu Jintao of China at a White House State Dinner in February 2011. The recipe combined the nuts (described as having a strong, earthy flavor) with D’Anjou pears, farmstead goat cheese, fennel and a white balsamic vinaigrette.

Cornus florida

The pink or white “flowers” of the dogwood, New Jersey’s memorial tree, are actually not flowers at all, but rather bracts, or leaves that differ from foliage leaves. The flowers themselves are yellow and clustered in the center.

Arisaema triphyllum

Chances are good you’ve never seen a Jack-in-the-pulpit flower. The hood-shaped “pulpit” is called the spathe. It covers the spadix, or the “jack,” i.e. minister. The flowers lie deep at the spadix’s base.

Rhododendron maximum

This shrub’s name, latin for “red tree,” comes from rhodo-, or red, and -dendron, for tree. Though a popular and gorgeous landscape plant, rhododendron is also a favorite foodstuff of deer. Related Drew fact: The fact that Drew has woodlands is no accident. In late 18th and early 19th century, much of Morris County was dotted with small and medium-sized farms. Wealthy landowners, like the Gibbons family who built Mead Hall, began to set up sprawling estates, and allowed portions of their property to revert to a natural tree-covered state.

Liriodendron tulipifera

Part of the magnolia family, the tulip tree makes a frightening appearance in Washington Irving’s “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” when Ichabod Crane comes upon one just before setting eyes on the headless horseman. “He was, moreover, approaching the very place where many of the scenes of the ghost stories had been laid. In the centre of the road stood an enormous tulip-tree, which towered like a giant above all the other trees of the neighborhood, and formed a kind of landmark. Its limbs were gnarled and fantastic, large enough to form trunks for ordinary trees, twisting down almost to the earth, and rising again into the air.”

Hirundo rustica

With the most deeply forked tail of all North American swallows, the barn swallow is known for long migrations. Sailors find in the swallow a kindred spirit; they’ve used the bird as an image for tattoos: one swallow for 5,000 nautical miles traveled, two for 10,000 miles.

Oporornis agilis

“May is the month of the warblers. They come in flocks, many species together. If the bird-lover is still wrestling with this large family of small birds, he will now become almost distracted. His opera glasses he must keep at hand and be ready to start instantly when a warbler’s call is heard, for the warblers are so many in kind, and they are so very small, and they are so very active, and they are with us for such an exceedingly short time, that every chance of observation must be seized, as if it were a matter of life and death.”—From “The Birds of Drew Forest” by Mrs. Olin A. Curtis in The Building of Drew University (1938) by Charles Fremont Sitterly

Thamnophis sirtalis

 “No doubt if we search carefully, we may find toads, lizards, newts, salamanders, the common garter snake and perhaps the slender green snake—though very few snakes have ever been reported as having been seen in the Drew Forest. There are no suitable places for snakes to hibernate, such as rocky ledges.”—“Drew Forest Preserve,” a mid-20th–century self-guided nature booklet

Egretta thula

The Zuck Arboretum’s two ponds were formed some 12,000 years ago when melting glaciers deposited large ice blocks, and subsequent property owners lined the resulting “punchbowls” with clay. The ponds harbor microscopic plankton, frogs, turtles, catfish and carp, which in turn attract predatory birds such as snowy egrets, herons and belted kingfishers.

Coccinellidae hippodamia

Mention ladybugs to a Drewid, and he or she is likely to report seeing them en masse jammed in dorm windows. Coccinellidae, by the way, aptly translates as “little red sphere."

Mimus polyglottos

A haven for birds like the mockingbird, Drew’s campus provides a valuable laboratory for ornithological research. Jessica Reid C’11 used the forest preserve to study the feeding habits of select birds, spending “hours and hours in the lab making over 10,000 dough worms to use in testing birds’ use of visual and olfactory cues during prey selection,” Associate Professor of Biology Tammy Windfelder told The Acorn in 2011. Reid received a scholarship from the national biology honor society, TriBeta, to do research for her senior thesis, which she presented at a regional conference that year.

Chrysemys picta

Environmental studies and sustainability major Kyle O’Neill C’12 did an experimental study in 2010 comparing the inhabitants, painted turtle included, of the two ponds in the arboretum. He investigated the major differences in their food webs, from fish on down.

Melanerpes carolinus

While the Rose Library doesn’t own an original Birds of America by John James Audubon (one sold in London in 2010 for nearly $12 million), it does have what is known as the book’s “baby elephant folio” edition. Among 435 pages of plates, it contains several bird species that appear in “Four Seasons at Drew,” including the barn swallow, blue jay, Connecticut warbler, crow, mockingbird and red-bellied woodpecker. Find a reference copy at QL681 .A97 1990.

Aix sponsa

At Drew, the wood duck is in luck: Acorns are a staple in its diet. Related Drew fact: Drew has a professor of computer science and mathematics named Barry Burd.

Rubus ursinus

The next time you’re in the produce section picking up blackberries, be aware you’re buying a drupelet, a fruit composed of multiple drupes, or fleshy bits surrounding a seed.


Say the name Thomas Edison, and the light bulb and phonograph immediately come to mind. But for two years, from 1927­–29, Edison also experimented with using goldenrod as a domestic source of rubber. He grew thousands of plants at his labs in West Orange, N.J., and Florida, and discovered that a crossbred strain of goldenrod would, in fact, produce the substance. The invention of synthetic rubber during WWII nipped that—no pun intended—in the bud.

Betula nigra

Like the skin-care conscious, river birch are serious exfoliators. The tree’s fame is its richly textured bark that, like the paper birch, peels extravagantly.

Sassafras albidum

Having one leaf shape isn’t enough for the sassafras: it has three. An oval-shaped unilobe leaf; a distinctive mitten-shaped, bilobed leaf and a trilobed, or three-pronged, leaf. The leaves are an important food for white-tailed deer and groundhogs.

Limenitis arthemis

In Britain, the white admiral was originally called the white admirable in 1766. One wonders if that might be potential oversight of the insect’s primary coloration.

Peromyscus maniculatus

Deer mice have something in common with another denizen of the Drew Forest: They share the same coloring as the white-tailed deer. Random fact: The deer mouse is not to be confused with the mouse deer, or chevrotain. Drew doesn’t have any (they’re native to Asia and Africa), but two are only a train ride away at the Central Park Zoo.

Araneus diadematus

A faculty member in Drew’s low-residency MFA in Poetry, Ross Gay writes in this graceful essay of being in thrall to the fragrant lavender in his garden, a lily that evokes his mother, a pair of darting cardinals he compares to “flecks of fire,” even a spider “hauling her enormous egg sac.”

Corvus brachyrhynchos

Neuroscience major Collyn Messier C’13 is studying crow cognition and problem-solving abilities in the Forest. His goal? To see if wild crows can open a puzzle box for a food reward. He’s also working at the nearby Raptor Trust with a captive raven named Jake.

Bombus fervidus

This bumblebee species does not appear to be among those whose marked decline in population over the past several decades has U.S. researchers, farmers and nature lovers wringing their hands. Related Drew fact: The writings of Danna Nolan Fewell, professor of Hebrew Bible in Drew’s Theological School, include commentary on the Bible’s only female judge, Deborah, whose name means “bee” in Hebrew. Fewell herself keeps bees.